Fed Cup World Group II: Slovakia Upsets Italy, Russia, Belgium and Ukraine Take Care Of Business - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup World Group II: Slovakia Upsets Italy, Russia, Belgium and Ukraine Take Care Of Business

In a surprise upset, Slovakia defeated Italy away, while the Russian D-team took care of Chinese Taipei. Belgium edged out Romania in three incredibly close matches, and Ukraine sent Australia into play-off from regional groups.

Jakub Bobro

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Slovakia 3-2 Italy

Both teams were forced to deal with decimated teams- Slovakia without Cibulkova and Italy without Vinci, Giorgi or Knapp. The tie was played on indoor clay in Forli, Italy. 36 year-old legend Francesca Schiavone opened the tie against World No. 252 Anna Schmiedlova. The 2010 French Open winner took the match 6-3 6-1, and got Italy off to a good start. Following it was a clash between Sara Errani and Fed Cup debutant Rebecca Sramkova. Errani seemed to have it under control, winning the first set 6-2, but once Sramkova’s hard hitting Giorgi-like game started to work, there was no coming back. The Slovak No. 2 turned the match around to win 2-6 6-3 6-4 in her Fed Cup debut. Day 2 was started by Sara Errani facing Daniela Hantuchova. Errani struggled with movement and is most likely injured, leading to Hantuchova winning 6-2 6-0, and Errani finishing the match in tears. Sramkova then had a chance to win the tie for Slovakia and send them into World Group play-offs and she took it. Her high risks brought high rewards against Schiavone, whose contrasting styles made for a great match to watch. Sramkova kept her cool in the important moments, and won 6-2 6-4. The dead doubles rubber had Paolini and Trevisan, young Italian talents play Schmiedlova and Sramkova, who retired from the match at 2-5. Sramkova had the best possible debut for her country, winning 2 out of 3 points that Slovakia won, against higher ranked and much more experienced players.

Russia 4-1 Chinese Taipei

Russia’s F-team played Taipei’s B-team in Moscow. Russia’s team featuring Ekaterina Makarova, Anna Blinkova, Natalia Vikhlyantseva, and Anna Kalinskaya faced Chinese Taipei without Su-Wei Hsieh and Yung-Jan Chan. Makarova opened the tie with a shaky 6-3 5-7 6-1 win over Ya-Hsuan Lee, only for Kai-Chen Chang to equal with a 6-3 7-5 win over Kai-Chen Chang. Makarova then took care of business against Chang, and Natalia Vikhlyantseva was brought in to finish the tie against Lee. The Russian did so in an impressive manner, winning 6-1 6-2 in just 58 minutes. Blinkova and Kalinskaya won the dead rubber over Chan and Hsu 6-3 7-5. If Russia can mobilize and get a better team together for the play-offs, they can be almost assured that they will have a place in the World Group again.

Belgium 3-1 Romania

Even without the injured Simona Halep, Romania were still the favorites with the home advantage. Niculescu and Flipkens began the tie, both players with quite unusual playing styles. The faster indoor hard court suited the Belgian better, and Flipkens got the first point for her nation, winning 6-3 6-4. Sorana Cirstea played the second match of the day against Yanina Wickmayer, who won the marathon 3 hour and 22 minute match 7-6(4) 5-7 7-5, sending Belgium to a 2-0 lead. For Day 2, both captains changed their original line-ups. Irina-Camelia Begu played for Romania, and Elise Mertens was to close out the tie out. Begu was up 6-3 5-4, but Mertens just edged her out, closed out the tie with an almost 3 hour match, 3-6 7-5 7-5. Dead doubles rubber was won by Romania, who fielded Sorana Cirstea and Monica Niculescu, winning 6-2 6-0 over Kirsten Flipkens and Maryna Zanevska.

Ukraine 3-1 Australia

A Stosur-less Australian team was outed by Ukraine. Team led by Gavrilova failed to win any of the singles matches, and they could be relegated to the Asia/Oceania regional group for the first time in Fed Cup history, since 1963. Gavrilova really let her team down, as she lost easily to first Tsurenko, then to Svitolina. Ash Barty pushed Svitolina to three sets, but it was not enough. Ukraine move on to the World Group Play-Offs, and with an opponent like Netherlands, they can definitely be in World Group in 2018. Barty and Dellacqua got the doubles point for Australia, winning 6-2 2-6 10-8 over Nadia Kichenok and Olga Savchuk.

 

ITF

EXCLUSIVE: Marian Vajda On Djokovic’s Rival Federer And Zverev’s Partnership With Lendl

In the second part of Ubitennis’ interview with the coach of Novak Djokovic, Vajda discusses the current state of men’s tennis.

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Marian Vajda is known to everybody as the coach of world No.1 Novak Djokovic, but his involvement in tennis goes beyond that.

A former Olympian himself, Vajda played competitively between 1982-1995. During that period he achieved a ranking high of 57th in the singles and claimed two ATP titles (Prague, 1987 and Geneva, 1988). After retiring from the tour, he went on to become the Fed and Davis Cup captain of his country prior to working with Djokovic.

A lot of changed since Vajda was playing on the tour, but he still sees some similarities. One of those being Roger Federer. The Swiss player is the oldest man currently ranked in the top 100. Vajda is a close follower of the world No.3 due to his rivalry with Djokovic. The two last locked horns at the Paris Masters earlier this month when the Serbian prevailed in three sets. Although Vajda believes Federer ‘didn’t play well’ on that occasion.

“It’s amazing to be still playing at the age of 37.” He said. “It is like in the past with players, we never wanted to end it (our careers) in our thirties. In the seventies, there was (John) Newcombe playing until the age of 37, (Jimmy) Connors until 41.”
“Federer is kind of old class. He doesn’t have it in his mind to stop, he feels good.”

The current landscape of men’s tennis continues to be dominated by the well established Big Four contingent, who are all aged over 30. The questions remain as to who will be able to fill their shoes in the future?

Alexander Zverev is the frontrunner to take over. The 21-year-old is currently ranked fifth in the world rankings and has claimed nine titles on the tour, including three at Masters level. He is currently on the right path to the top, but it isn’t necessarily certain.

“There is still a big gap and he needs to work a little bit more.” Vajda commented when analyzing Zverev’s his game.

Guiding the German on the tour is Ivan Lendl. A multiple grand slam champion that had previously enjoyed a successful coaching stint with Andy Murray. The collaboration is one backed by Vajda, who sees similarities between Zverev and a young Djokovic.

“Lendl can do it, he is really focused.” He said. “I told him (Lendl) that he has a very good guy. He reminds me of when I coached Novak when he was young.”

Another player that has caught his attention is Karen Khachanov. The Russian is one of only two players to have only defeated Djokovic since Wimbledon. That was at the Paris Masters where he defeated a total of four top 10 players on route to the biggest title of his career to date.

“Khachanov is a guy who doesn’t have fear. He has a healthy confidence. He has a better serve and forehand than (Daniil) Medvedev.” Vajd concluded.

Part 1 of Vajda’s interview with Ubitennis can be read HERE

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Fed Cup

VIDEO: Was It A Wise Choice For Denis Shapovalov To Skip The Next Gen Finals?

Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta speaks with John Horn about the Canadian rising star.

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Last week saw Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas add to his title collection at the Next Gen Finals in Milan, but one notable absentee from the tournament was Denis Shapovalov.

The 19-year-old is the youngest player inside the world’s top 100 at 27th and the fourth highest ranked among the Next Generation. A group of upcoming players under the age of 21. Shapovalov opted to end his season early due to exhaustion. Ubitennis analyses Shapovalov’s decision and looks ahead to what the future could have in store for him.

 

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Fed Cup

Katerina Siniakova saves two match points to secure the 11th Fed Cup title for

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Katerina Siniakova secured the decivive 3-0 point to earn Czech Republic its 11th Fed Cup title and its 6th triumph in the past eight seasons at this event since 2011. Siniakova had to save two match point at 4-5 in the third set to beat US Sofia Kenin 7-5 5-7 7-5 in the third singles match to the delight of the enthusiastic Czech fans, who packed the O2 Arena in Prague.

Siniakova scored her second singles win this weekend after beating Alison Riske on Saturday.

Siniakova converted her first break chance and went up a double break early in the first set. Kenin got back on serve at 1-2 in a 10-minute game before breaking again in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Sinakova bounced back by breaking serve once more. Kenin converted on her break point at deuce at 3-5 down before drawing level to 5-5. Siniakova reeled off five consecutive games to build up a 7-5 3-0 lead, but Kenin came back from 15-40 down to win her first game of the second set. The US teenager broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games. Siniakova pulled the break back for 4-5 with a series of backhand winners. Kerer broke again at love in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead before sealing the second set on the fourth set point.

Siniakova saved three break points in the first game of the decider before breaking serve on her second chance. The Czech player consolidated the break with a hold to build up a 3-0 lead.

Siniakova fended off four break points to hold serve for 4-1 in a 19-minute marathon fifth game. Kenin fought back by winning four consecutive games thanks to two consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games to take a 5-4 lead, but she fired the ball beyond the baseline twice from 40-15 and failed to convert her two match points. Siniakova reeled off six points in a row from 0-40 down at 5-5. Siniakova got the final break of the match in the 12th game to seal a thrilling win after 3 hours and 44 minutes, when Kenin sent her forehand into the tramlines. The Czech team celebrated the fourth of their six titles since 2011 at the O2 Arena in Prague.

Siniakova scored the third win in four singles Fed Cup rubbers. She hit 4 aces and won 56 percent of her first serve points. Kenin hit 42 winners but she made 76 unforced errors.

Czech Republic ended a 8-match losing streak against the USA at Fed Cup level.

Petr Pala has won his sixth title as captain of the Czech Fed Cup team. He boasts an impressive 24-4 win-loss record in the 28 Fed Cup matches where he took charge of the Czech team.

The US team captained by Kathy Rinaldi did not defend their title won in 2017, but they featured a young team with three players Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and Nicole Melichar, who made their debut at this event this weekend.

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